Sunday Confessional: Coming Out of the Fog? Maybe.

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Trigger warnings: Death and Gun Violence.

Heather says:


I used to do the Sunday Confessional as a way to help remind everyone that no one’s life is television perfect. To remind you and myself that what we see on Facebook or wherever  is just a snapshot and not the whole picture. To remind myself that we are often comparing our worst with another person’s best.

Life is hard.

Death is harder.

While in Atlanta in September, I took part in Erika Napoletano -someday I’ll learn to spell her name-‘s closing keynote. I stood on a stage and said, “I’m sorry I didn’t tell the whole story, but I will someday.”

Monday, October 7, on Twitter, I told parts of Laura’s story that I hadn’t told in the post on organ and tissue donation.

I’m including it here because I promised I’d tell her story and I don’t want it to get completely lost in the ephemera that is Twitter.



(Heather 2015: She didn’t break her arm, he broke her arm, “I pushed her and she fell” said at some point to my father in the ICU)  




















(Heather 2015: No, it’s not plausible)





My children have heard edited versions of both of my siblings’ deaths. They are too young for the full version and the edited version has something I wish I could shield them from. Both Erica and Laura made choices because they were too sad. Now they see me struggling with grief, anxiety, and depression and it is all I can do to reassure them that I will continue to fight this. Each morning as I take the medication I tell myself, I will get better, because I must.

I sleep with the light on, like a child, I’m afraid of the dark. It’s not the physical dark though, it’s that intangible darkness we all carry within us and somehow leaving a light on helps a little.

I don’t remember much of September outside of panic attacks and anxiety. The medication I’m on, because I will not lose this fight, really messes with my memory. I hate that. I used to feel intelligent and somewhat insightful. I used to be a fully functional adult and felt like I was ready to take on the world. Now, I get the musts done, but the shoulds have all fallen by the wayside, let’s not even talk about the wants.

One of my closest friends in the world also struggles with anxiety and is also facing huge life changes. To get through this, we have come up with the concept of “Adult Camp.” Please get your mind out of the gutter, it’s not a clothing optional kind of thing. We simply do things together that are overwhelming.

I know that some of you know these feelings, that sometimes, just going to Target for household items can feel impossible. We get through it together though. We have a list of things we have to do: log a few hours of work, make doctor appointments, make phone calls, refill prescriptions, go to the store. . . things that used to be simple that no longer are. Our refrain, as we accomplish stupid, menial tasks that used to be easy is, “We did it, like grown ups!”

I tell you this, knowing I sound weak and ridiculous.

I no longer care.

This has been a humbling experience.

We are all broken in our own ways, some of us are very good at hiding that broken, but sometimes compensating is the least healthy choice.

Those of you who have reached out to me in the past six weeks or so, with letters, cards, emails, and yes, even the hugs, I can never thank you enough.

I’ll be Heather again someday, not quite yet, but there are days where I see a glimpse of myself and that encourages me to continue forward, in this robotic shuffle that gets me through these days.

I had my first good day since August 22 last Tuesday. It ended with a flat tire, someone I barely know picking my children up from after school care, and my accidentally swiping a tire iron from a really nice teenager.  I’m sorry, Alex, if I had any idea of how to find you, I’d totally return the tire iron. Somehow through all of that mess, I didn’t cry or just go to bed.

And that gives me hope that there will be more good days. Days where I can handle more than the musts and maybe start in on the shoulds. (Writing here is a should). isn’t going away and neither will I. Thank you for your patience and sticking around despite the lack of updates.

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36 thoughts on “Sunday Confessional: Coming Out of the Fog? Maybe.”

  1. I know that I’m coming to this far, far after it was posted, but I wanted to say thank you for putting this out there. I can’t imagine how hard it was (and how hard it’s been), but it is so helpful. Thinking of you.

  2. This hits very close to home. A family member who was like a big sister to me committed suicide just a couple weeks after this post. At least, it was ruled immediately a suicide and not looked into until later. We now have questions, that could have been answered if the police treated the case as a homicide from the beginning, but instead we’ll likely never have concrete answers.

    I’m shaking my head, my grief is too raw to know what else to say except that I unfortunately understand what you’re going through, and thank you for sharing.

  3. This hits very close to home. My cousin, like a big sister, committed suicide just a couple weeks after this post. At least, it was ruled immediately a suicide and not looked into until later. We now have questions, that could have been answered if the police treated the case as a homicide from the beginning, but instead we’ll likely never have concrete answers.

    I’m shaking my head, my grief is too raw to know what else to say except that I unfortunately understand what you’re going through, and thank you for sharing.

  4. Thank you for sharing this with us, many of us who haven’t met you in person but still wish for the best for you and your family. I’m so glad you have someone to go on “adult camp” with – in my house, when I’m totally stuck, can’t get past the anxiety to make the next step, I’m really glad when I have a friend or my husband to nudge me out of the stuck- ness and into the next minute. May tomorrow be easier than today, that is my wish for you and your family.

  5. Heather, hoping you can find peace in little ways and moments. Be kind to yourself. Get help when you need it, and know that there will be brighter days ahead. xo, Chris

  6. You take all the time you need. We’ll still be here. And remember it’s ok if it’s a slow awakening from the fog. There may even be times that you go back into it again. Just don’t let yourself go too deep without someone there to hold you up. (hugs)

  7. Heather, my prayers are with you and all of your family. We don’t get over the deaths of those we love, but we do learn how to live with the holes that are left in our lives. Nobody can feel what you’re feeling and nobody can tell you how to get through the awful days, but please just keep trying. One day writing down your feelings might help, another day it’ll be useless; some books that are highly recommended may make you so angry you throw them across the room. All of it is part of grieving, and all of it is what’s true for you. May you find comfort and peace in the days to come. Glenda

  8. Heather, thank you for trusting us with your heart and your fears. You have given us all courage to admit our vulnerabilities. That took a lot of courage and you will need more courage going forward. I am so glad this is a safe outlet for you. We are blessed because of it.
    Much love to you!

  9. you know what? You take as long as you need to come out of the fog. It’s a part of the grieving process, I’m sure. And? When you’re out of that fog and there’s a foggy patch ahead, it’s okay. Because now that you’ve had that day last week… you know that there’s clear, even if it’s every now and then. You know it’s somewhere and you’ll see it again.

    I don’t know. I can’t put myself in your place. I can only feel for you and be allowed to hug you again when I see you again. So, I hope what I’m saying makes sense here. Just… glad to know that you know it’s okay. Clouds or sun. Each day. You have love.

  10. Heather, I am so deeply sorry for your loss. All the questions you have on top of that would be enough to drive anyone to insanity. There was an incident in my family this past spring and even though my pain is a mere shadow of yours, I can relate. Just keep going through the motions, as exhausting as it is. Be kind to yourself. I am thinking of you and praying for your whole family.

  11. Heather,

    I am so sorry for your losses. I didn’t suffer the traumatic losses that you suffered, but both my mother and brother passed away within a year of each other. My father died in 1996, so I am truly without any of the family I grew up with, alive. I have my husband and my two adopted daughters. But I felt as you did when my mother passed away last year after being ill and not able to cope with her son’s death the year before. I felt that it was hard to go on and some days it really was. I cried out I missed my mother so much. Friends I thought would be supportive, weren’t because they felt I wasn’t supportive to them (I was as much as I could be with a husband and two special needs kids). I felt very much alone at times. Basic stuff was hard for me to do. Take the time you need to grieve and don’t feel you have to do it in any specific timeframe. I can say I am able to cope more, but I do miss my mother every day. I went through every stage of grief there was. I don’t think I am at acceptance yet, but I do the best I can. Hang in there. You will heal. You will learn acceptance, even though it will still hurt. But you will come out the other side when you are ready. I wish I had gone to counseling. I didn’t, nor did I take meds, but I wish I had. Hang in there.

  12. I am simply so sorry. The original explanation was so painful, this is just debilitatingly so. But you soldier on as best you can, lean on whatever supports you need. You will have my prayers as well, since I can’t imagine what else I can offer.
    But I will tell you that this:
    We are all broken in our own ways, some of us are very good at hiding that broken, but sometimes compensating is the least healthy choice.
    This is the ultimate truth – and your recognition of it makes you that much closer to healing.

  13. I’m so proud of you for writing this. I know how tough it was to do and it takes a great deal of strength to do this. I know many people would never do it. I always hoped you would someday be able to share this but I thought it was be far down the road. This will definitely help with the healing process but whoever said time heals all wounds deserves a good sock in the nose.

    I’m still pissed that anyone would do what they did regarding the autopsy… it would have been so important for many reasons… still…. sometimes the truth comes out other ways.

  14. I have never commented here before, but I’ve been reading you all the way from Peru for a very long time, and I just wanted to say you and your family are in my prayers, and I will stay here, ready for when you are

  15. Dearest Heather

    There is nothing that can be said that will make you feel better. The loss of your sister is horribly tragic and the pain will never go away. You will learn how to deal with it and the pain will slowly subside and not be so raw. You know that Katy and I understand grief and how ugly it is. Your are a strong woman and I know that you are surrounded by friends and family that will be there for you when you need support, and you will. My pastor told me that writing about our grief is very therapeutic. If you can, keep a journal where you can write in it each day and just pour out your thoughts and feelings. This journal should be private and you do not need to feel that you have to share it with anyone. Yes, it does help. We are here for you in whatever way that we can. You have our e-mail and social media information so if you need something just ask. In the mean time we will pray for you and your family. Hugs

  16. Sincere hope and love for you Heather. I fear the hug I gave when last I saw you wasn’t nearly long enough or emotionally charged enough to convey the sincerity of my feelings. I too suffer from severe anxiety but lack the medical care to get the meds, so I handle it one day at a time. Fear, loneliness and depression get to me on the odd occasion but I promised myself to keep pushing through and to just keep moving forward. You are a wonderful, brave, strong woman and I know you will get through this. I believe in you. Keep doing what you’re doing and it will get better. Know that there are a lot of people around you who love and care about you and will never let you stray.

  17. Dear Heather, You definitely don’t sound weak or ridiculous. Forget about that way of thinking. Anyone who thinks about you that way can %$&# off. Sorry to talk that way, but seriously, I feel that. Good for you taking the medication you need to take. I agree with the comment above about asking for help from someone who can pay special attention to the kids to help you. I’m so sorry you and your family have had to go through this again. You are in my prayers. I wish you lived closer–I would love to be able to help in a tangible way. Love, Stacy

  18. Heather, I won’t say much here because you don’t know me. But I will say you don’t sound weak or ridiculous. What you do sound is broken and brought low by grief and depression. Anyone who’s ever felt the chains of depression can empathize with what you’re feeling. And I commend you for making the effort to persevere. It is not easy, but neither are you weak. You are so incredibly strong that I am humbled. “Adult Camp” is a wonderful tool, and it’s one that I’ll be recommending to my clients who experience depression, and one that I will use during my own future low times.

    You are a brilliant person who strives to help others, and you are doing your daughters a huge service by showing them a healthy way to approach depression. Yes, medication sucks. But sometimes it is needed to help rebalance us, and for most it is a temporary measure. Yes, being overwhelmed by the “simple” things in life is awful and debilitating, but you have found a way to cope and endure and still accomplish those things that need to be done. And last but far from least, losing someone you love is an terrible wrench, especially when it is so sudden. But feeling the grief for that, and for your unanswered questions, is not only normal, it’s something that would worry me if you DIDN’T feel.

    I’ll end this by reiterating how incredibly strong you are. Thank you for sharing your trials with us, so we can learn from your example. Thank you for letting us reply and give you what support we can give. Thank you for knowing that your children see how you cope and striving to reassure them. I wish you the best, and hopeful joy at the prospect of the veil beginning to lift.

  19. To stand up and speak out takes courage. You’ve done both, for your self, your sister, your family. Your on the right track Heather and are doing the right things : D Healing will come….it’s already started : D

  20. Anxiety happens. It is not fun, I agree. But you are doing well to fight it and to cope, as best you can. You are stronger than you know, and as you heal you will remember that this is true. I know I am just another online stranger. However, stranger that I am, I wish you all the best. Do not be ashamed to stumble, only of refusing to try.

  21. I just want to say that I’m so sorry for your loss and for what you are struggling with at the moment. Peace and blessings to you, your sister and your family.

  22. You will always be Heather. Just different now. Needless to say, my thoughts are with you. We that survive will always understand what others do not. Peace

  23. I am so sorry for your loss and the circumstances of your loss that add to the pain and grief! You will be in my thoughts. Your story of grown-up camp makes me wonder if there isn’t a deeper meaning to my inability to run errands and make doctor’s apts for myself. I think I’ll form my own Grown-up Camp for myself. I’m glad you were able to find a fellow camper. This blog is in my feed reader and I’m always happy to see a new post. I’ll be cooking my first Thanksgiving dinner in years this year and I’ll be using your count-down as my guide to getting it done. Best Wishes, Jenn

  24. Oh Heather. Sincere prayers have been sent for you. I too have been through horrible trauma, though not quite the same as yours. I just want to confirm for you that from what I know, you’re doing it right. Take baby steps when you can, go to bed when you can’t. There is no pressure to be productive right now. You are in survival mode, and when the time comes that you don’t need to be in survival mode then you will move into just trying to be normal mode. These are all huge accomplishments.

    Dory the blue fish in Finding Nemo? Just keep swimming? It’s a mantra. Find the clip on Youtube and play it for yourself if you have to.

    Please make sure that someone is helping your children through this as well. They don’t know how this is affecting them, but it is, and they will remember this time years from now as being hard. Place a trusted friend or family member in charge of watching over them protectively and making sure their life remains as normal as possible.

    I wish I could do the Long Island Medium thing and give you an authentic message from your sister. I can say with complete sincerity that no matter how she died, no matter how scared or despondent, she has gone back home to heaven and she is fine. She is happy in heaven. You do not need to worry about her. Miss her, but don’t worry about her. We lost a nephew this past summer. He drowned. He had just turned 13. My soul cringed with thoughts of him struggling and panicking in the water before he finally succumbed. He was able to send us a message that he is happy beyond belief, heaven is beautiful, he wasn’t afraid because he had angels with him, and that he can accomplish more good from up there than he could down here on earth. I apologize if this doesn’t agree with your own religious or spiritual beliefs and makes you uncomfortable, but I know how much it helps me to know that my loved ones are safe and happy.

    You don’t know me. I know you through your occasional emails. My heart goes out to you. I’m sorry you have to go through this. That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, and everything happens for a reason, even the horrible stuff. I wish you well and send my love.


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